This weekend, while NCAA fans are ankle-deep in busted brackets, a different kind of obsessive will be gathering for the very first Tritone Guitars Gear Expo. All manner of guitar-slingers, gear-heads and tone-nerds will be on hand at the Metropolitan Artists Lofts in midtown (500 North Grand Boulevard) to check the wares of local builders and guitar technicians. The free event takes place this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is open to the public
The expo is an offshoot of local tech and musician Dave Anderson's Tritone Guitars, which began as a guitar-repair operation and has expanded to include design, consultation and multimedia exploits. The Tritone Facebook group in particular shows the robust interest in bespoke guitar gear located in St. Louis -- posters regularly inquire about set-up tips and advice or offer their gear for sale. Local builders and techs, from Chris Kroenlein's K-Line Guitars to Brad Sarno's Sarno Music Solutions, will be on hand for demonstrations. (Visit the Facebook event page for a full list of participants.)
Over email, Anderson explained the genesis of this gear summit and his visions for the future of the St. Louis tone community.
Christian Schaeffer: What was the impetus behind the expo?
Dave Anderson: I do a lot of online marketing for Tritone Guitars and decided to start a closed group on Facebook, as a way to communicate with my customers and let them communicate with each other. Local companies were also asking to join this group, so it kind of became a board for builders, repair people, artists and customers to communicate. It just seemed like a logical step to have everyone in the same room to meet in person, and better yet, demo the gear that we all have been building.
What excites you about the community of guitar luthiers, amp builders and effects wizards based in and around St. Louis?
First of all, the number of builders that are in the St. Louis area: We have twice as many exhibitors for the expo than I originally expected. Economically, it's proof that a person can start a business out of their dream on a grassroots level and inspire others to move forward with their passions, whether they are gear builders, artist, musicians, etc. It definitely helps support the St. Louis economy by having builders tapping into other local resources like materials or marketing to help keep their companies rolling. With my company, I rely on local stores to buy my parts, building materials, print marketing, Web design, etc. I could go online to purchases items and services at the lowest cost, but that would be ridiculous in the long run: Why would I expect people to come to me for my services if I am not willing to go to them for theirs?
Tritone has become something of a nexus of information and community-building for guitarists in St. Louis. What is your vision for Tritone and for this collective of players and enthusiasts?
I'd love to see this community grow. More artists and more builders creating cool stuff for musicians equals more musicians and a bigger scene. I recently started a gear-focused podcast produced by Mike Schrand of KWMU (90. 7 FM) called the Tritone Collective; I am working with a local builder, Scott Kuhnert, on a prototype Tritone tube amp. I do some online reviewing and demos of products for other manufacturers and would like to continue to do that, as well. I guess the goal is to be able to create an entity that can facilitate all of my interests: repair, building, writing, demos, sessions, lessons and products. That is what I see Tritone having the potential to be.
What can the average guitar player -- someone who is not a builder or tinkerer -- expect from the expo?
We have tons of builders exhibiting, including pedal builders, amp builders, studio gear builders, electric and acoustic guitar builders, as well as some local artists showing off their music-related art. We also have representatives from Playing for the Cause, which is a nonprofit I have been involved with since last summer that connects musicians with fans to contribute to their favorite charities. Matthew Von Doran is a local musician, teacher, and author for Mel Bay that recently started a really cool online program for guitarists called 99 Decisions, and he'll be there to talk about what he's doing. Guitar aficionados, musicians and enthusiasts will all have something to walk away with.
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